Vol 8, No 349
December 15, 1970
Nixon Appoints Connally Secretary of Treasury
Actor Chill Wills, dead at 76
On this date in 1978, actor Chill Wills died in California. He was suffering from cancer.
From 1934 to 1978, Wills appeared in dozens of movies, including the voice of Francis the Mule in several films. As a serious actor, he played Uncle Bawley in Giant (1956), and "Beekeeper" in the original The Alamo.
Will starred in several television series including Frontier Circus and The Rounders. His final role was in 1978 in Stubby Pringle's Christmas.
WASHINGTON DC (1970)
On this date in 1970, Former Governor John Connally, under rumors that he might switch parties, was appointed by President Richard Nixon to be Secretary of the Treasury. Connally survived the bullet that killed President Kennedy in Dallas.
700 Polish Immigrats join other Poles in Texas
On this date in 1955, 700 Polish immigrants arrived at the port of Galveston. The year before 100 families from Pluznica and other villages of the Upper Silesian area of Poland founded Panna Maria in present Karnes County. Soon many of the 700 immigrants will join them. Others will fan out across Central and South Texas. By 1855 a Catholic Church and School, the oldest in the United States were founded.
Second Trans-Continental railroad Completed
SIERRA BLANCA (1881)
On this date in 1881, in Hudspeth County in West Texas, the Texas and Pacific Railroad met Southern Pacific Railroad (operating under the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad charter) completing the nation's Second Trans-Continental Railroad.
A line to the south of here, would soon connect the West Coast to San Antonio, Houston and Galveston, giving access to the nations second rail line extending from ocean to ocean.
Initially, the Southern Pacific was prevented from extending eastward into Texas (at El Paso), so their directors worked a deal with the GH&SA (Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railroad) to extend the SP through Texas using the GH&SA charter and Southern Pacific workers.
The Texas and Pacific was granted approval to meet the Southern Pacific at Yuma Arizona, but as the T&P bogged down in North Texas, the two railroads entered West Texas, each vying for the best route through the mountains. The GH&SA (Southern Pacific) got through first, and the T&P met them at Sierra Blanca, and Trans-continental service began the next day.
The Southern Pacific (GH&SA) Continued Southeastward to connect with the San Antonio line heading west, meeting near Langtry, and in January 1883, the railroad was complete from New Orleans to Los Angeles.
In the days before the railroad, the only way West was on horseback/wagon or by ship traveling around the tip of South America. Returning to the East was a rarity. Railroads united the Nation, making cross country travel a reality.